The Struggle of Being Single in the Church

I have to say that being single in the church world can be one of the hardest roads to walk. It’s definitely been a struggle for me. Oftentimes church culture is one where marriage is looked upon as almost the ultimate goal in a person’s life, and if you are not married then you are not complete.  I find that it can be almost impossible to navigate the expectations of people in the church about marriage — either married or single. 

It seems that the married people forget the singles, and the singles get angry and hurt. Both are wrong, and both are impacting the culture of the church in ways that affect it eternally. The impact of all this goes on how we see everyone in the church. Having said all that, I have chosen to serve in the church because I love the church. God has called me, and that is my strength and hope. I believe there are issues no matter where you are, and as long as you deal with people, you will deal with messy things.  


I believe that each person has a responsibility and choice about how they react and live this life. Do you listen to God, or do you listen to people and a culture?  I can’t say that I never have bad days, because I do. I tend to get overwhelmed at times being single, but ultimately my identity and acceptance comes from God, even when I don’t feel it or choose to know it. I hope that the ideas below help a little. Please know that they are just my opinions and what I have learned the last 15+ years of being single in the church.


One of the hardest things for me is finding people and places where I can be honest about my journey as a single person. People want to give me advice and pat my back and tell me the go-to “one-liners” church people are taught to say to single people. It is up to single people to be honest (in loving and respectful ways) about our lives, and then maybe the church will know how to react and treat us.  We can’t do it out of anger but out of genuine hearts. We also need to be honest in how we have done things wrong and how we have done things right. Honesty allows you to look at the picture with all of the light needed to see the little things. 


This is probably one of the things that bothers me the most.  Don’t stop living life while waiting to get married.  The main reason I dislike this so much is that it is not godly.  God has given us each individual gifts to change and impact this world, and we will be responsible for how we use these gifts in the end.  We, as Christians — not just single or married — need to live our lives in a way that pleases and honors God with the passions, talents, and responsibilities that He has given us.  We all need to be using those talents and gifts to impact eternity, and if you are waiting to get married to use those gifts, you are totally not doing what God has commanded you to do, and that is wrong. 


I have been hurt over and over dealing with the expectations the church, both knowing and unknowingly, placed on me about being single and about who I should date or talk with. I am not talking about morals or dating non-Christians, because I will never say to compromise in that. What I am saying is the expectations and unrealistic picture of what our “spouse” is supposed to look like and what mold they need to be formed from can get out of control. 

I have seen so many people missing a perfect opportunity for a great relationship because of the expectations they had in their heads about the “perfect spouse.” If they didn’t have the right look or the right speech — or the right way they moved while worshipping. Again, I am not saying just go with anybody, but don’t look for what others determine is perfect or expected. Be open to what the Lord has.  Also, there seems to be a fear of dating, being open, and developing friendships with the opposite sex. I understand boundaries, and they should be there, but we are missing so much from each other’s lives by not opening up and seeing what God has.


We are always told to “use your singleness to grow closer to God.” As much as I agree with this, it is often said to us in the way of an adult telling a little child: “It’s ok. You will understand life once you are married, so until then, distract yourself with God.” Having a stronger relationship with God and growing in that relationship should be every person’s goal — not just singles. You also need to allow God to speak to you and make you who He wants you to be in both singleness and in marriage. When you are single, just allow God to mold you and shape you into who He wants you to be. Yes, we do deal with different issues than married couples, so just as married couples, let Him speak to you and walk you through. No matter what chapter we find ourselves in, we need God to walk us through. Let Him.


If we can live a life pointing people to God by how we deal with being single, then that is what we should do. In both the church and unchurched worlds, relationships are the main goal for a lot of people. Living for something bigger than marriage or relationships is a great way to show eternal purpose to everyone. When we can live opposite of the broken world — in the way we treat and act around the opposite sex, in the way we react to being single, and in the way we deal with everyday life — we can speak volumes on who Jesus is and the power He has in our lives. We have the grace to live how we are called to live. 

Guest Post by Margot Rea